FCC reconsiders premium access to high-speed Internet lanes

Barbara van Schewick, a CISAC affiliated faculty member and director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, lays out in this blog post the reasons why she believes the public should take serious notice of the FCC's possible reversal on network neutrality.

Many media outlets have reported that the Federal Communications Commission will propose a new rule that would allow Internet service providers to charge companies a premium for access to faster network lanes. Public interest groups and proponents of net neutrality – the principle that service providers and governments should treat all Internet data equally so as not to discriminate – are up in arms.

Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who coined the term “net neutrality,” wrote in The New Yorker: “It threatens to make the Internet just like everything else in American society: unequal in a way that deeply threatens our long-term prosperity.”

Van Schewick argues that net neutrality is not dead. However, Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which requires the commission to allow access fees, hamstrings the FCC. She believes the FCC should consider reclassifying Internet service as a telecommunications service and adopt network neutrality rules under Title II of the Telecommunications Act – rules that are unencumbered by the restrictions imposed by Section 706.

You can read her in-depth analysis here.